Sunday, July 14

Papa’s Peeps

by Stephen D’Alessio

In the years before the coronavirus, we are Italian on Easter.

No dinners of food snatched together before the supermarkets closed for quarantine hours.

It is Nana’s lasagna, pizza rustica, and sausages stacked lovingly on a little dish.

Now, the family sits fully fed, cups of coffee in hand.

The conversations, face to face, not over unfeeling digital screens,

taking us far away.

But Papa sits silently at the end of the table,

the hunter patiently awaiting his prey.

The minutes pass, and suddenly there is a great rip. 

The conversation disappears, like the air out of a punctured balloon.

My sister has appeared next to Papa with the marshmallow peeps!

He surveys them with a jeweler’s expert eye.

Papa’s hand shoots, spiderlike, at the fattest bird, the precious animal.

With terrifying zeal, he decapitates the poor creature.

Papa’s eyes close in ecstasy.

Finally, he opens one up like a dragon waking from a slumber.

He turns to me with a small smile.

“Happy Easter kid,” he says.

And while I sit in isolation

with more than a quarantine separating Papa from me

I know I will always remember that look.

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